- "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer argues that OPEC is a "shadow of its former self" and no longer wields control over the price of oil.
- Cramer recalls his 2008 interview with then-businessman Donald Trump, where he criticized U.S. leaders for neglecting to call on OPEC to lower oil prices.
"Oil that's close to 100, going to be over 100 and nobody in this country calls and says get that goddamn oil price down," Trump said in a 2008 interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer.
Fast forward 10 years, and now-president Trump is at it again, slamming OPEC on Friday via Twitter for keeping oil prices artificially high.
"Looks like OPEC is at it again," the president wrote. "With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!"
But Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," saw one big problem with the president's view of the oil markets.
If Trump calls OPEC, "there'll be no one at the other end of the line who matters, because it's not OPEC that's behind the rally. It's the oil market itself," Cramer said on Friday. "The OPEC that exists today? It's a shadow of its former self. ... You see, OPEC no longer controls the price of oil."
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices hovered around $68 a barrel on Friday, taking a hit from the president's tweet and recovering into day-end.
Cramer suggested Trump reach out to Schlumberger CEO Paal Kibsgaard instead. As CEO of the world's biggest oil services company, Kibsgaard has his finger on the pulse of the oil markets.
Kibsgaard told investors and analysts on his company's Friday post-earnings conference call that key OPEC countries like Angola, Indonesia and Venezuela were seeing production declines while Libya and Nigeria were producing at full capacity.
At the same time, non-OPEC nations like Mexico and Norway haven't been spending enough to keep prices low, while the United States, a major oil power since 2008, is constrained by issues of limited infrastructure and other "bottlenecks," Cramer said, still relaying Kibsgaard's outlook.
"So who could the president call? Saudi Arabia," the "Mad Money" host said. "The Saudis actually do have the spare capacity needed because they kept investing during the whole downturn. You can make that case right now, that the Saudis and a non-OPEC producer, Russia, are indeed keeping prices higher than they should be by holding back oil from the market."
While he acknowledged that Russian officials probably wouldn't do the United States' bidding, Cramer saw potential in Saudi Arabia. Trump could make the argument that if the Saudis want to preserve friendly relations with the United States, they must produce more oil, he said.
But if the world's economies continue to expand, even Saudi Arabia wouldn't be able to keep oil prices down alone, Cramer warned.
Moreover, if oil prices remain high as the United States fixes its bottlenecks and makes a concerted shift to alternative energy sources, prices will fall on their own, the "Mad Money" host said.
"The president is a total fossil fuel true believer, but if he were to become a bigger fan, say, of renewables, you could envision a world where we could make ourselves independent even of Saudi Arabia," he said. "But we aren't there yet."
"Yep, the world has changed rapidly since that video," Cramer continued. "Renewables and the shale revolution here in America have managed to lower the price of oil far more than we ever thought possible. The Saudis could lower it still more right now, at least for the moment. But OPEC? Sorry, that illegal cartel['s] been busted. The president can call them, but nobody's home."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Schlumberger.